X-MEN BLUE #9
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Cory Smith & Thony Silas
Colorists: Matt Milla & Irma Kniivila
Cover Artists: Arthur Adams & Peter Steigerwald
POLARIS vs HAVOK! Writer Cullen Bunn brings Polaris front and center as Marvel Girl and Jimmy Hudson, along with Danger, attempt to free Iceman, Beast, Angel, Briar Raleigh and Cyclops from Emma Frost, the White Queen and her strike force of former X-Men!
What you need to know: Captain America has claimed the United States for Hydra. In this SECRET EMPIRE tie-in, Magneto’s X-Men were attempting to free dissidents in the less than perfect Sovereign Mutant Nation of New Tian, when they were attacked by a strike force led by Havok, with former friends, Sunfire, Wolfsbane, and Firestar among them, Iceman, Angel, Beast, Briar Raleigh, and Cyclops were captured. Having survived being buried by Havok’s blasts, Jean and Jimmy were surprised to find their Blackbird was actually former X-Men member Danger, the sentient embodiment of the X-Men’s Danger Room. Launching a rescue mission, Jean, Jimmy, and Danger are overwhelmed by Havok when unexpected help arrives: POLARIS!
What you’ll find out: Danger is holding off Marrow, Sunfire, and Hellfire goons while Bobby, Warren, and Hank are in a holding cell and Briar Raleigh is drinking in her suite. Emma Frost is seemingly mentally torturing young Scott while using the power of her piece of Cosmic Cube to amplify her control over Xorn. In another part of the Capitol, Polaris has entered the battle, defending Jean and Jimmy from Havok’s attack. It’s a bittersweet reunion, one I’m sure fans have been clamoring for. Polaris has always been one of the most underrated and underused characters in X-History. Here, we see a strong and centered, yet compassionate Lorna Dane, which is long overdue. Showing she can yell orders to Jean and Jimmy while barely flexing a muscle to stave off Havok, Polaris earns her title as Mistress of Magnetism, Magneto’s daughter. Jean and Jimmy are now able to locate and rescue their teammates. Discovering Cyclops to be separated from the rest, Jean realizes they must face the White Queen directly. Finding Briar on the search, they are suddenly attacked by Cyclops, (displaying the power signature of the post-Phoenix Five Cyclops) and the White Queen while Xorn stands nearby. A battle ensues, but when Jean enters Scott’s mind, she sees multiple personas of Cyclops from Emma’s memories standing around him. Emma reveals her true intentions: to change Scott “into the man he is supposed to be” and into the man she “need’s”. Jean lashes out at Emma, forcing her into diamond form when she is blasted by Scott.
As they take their leave, a battered Emma looks to Xorn to stop them, but, free of her will, he informs her that he will not allow her to control him. On their way out, our heroes are met by a speed bump of sorts, in the form of Mondo, Firestar, Toad, and some Hellfire goons, but they make it out to meet up with Polaris and Danger (aka the Blackbird). While on the ride home, it is revealed that Magneto had Danger and Polaris keep tabs on the young team. It is also revealed that Danger, Briar Raleigh, and Polaris are their new teachers. CUT AWAY #1: Annamite Mountains, Vietnam; we see Magneto being reprimanded and threatened by Captain America but he clearly puts him in his place. CUT AWAY #2: Beneath Utopia; while descending a staircase, the White Queen informs Havok that she once again has control over Xorn, but it’s fleeting. Havok reassures her that they have enough material to test their “findings” and “now they can move onto stage two” of something called Mothervine. They enter a room to see Miss Sinister and Bastion before them.
What worked for me and what didn’t: First and foremost, I want to get what didn’t work for me, out of the way. As much as I love getting to read stories twice a month, I think this book should go monthly. I feel the bi-monthly schedule could be hindering the book in this regard. I would love a well-known artist to take over the book on a monthly schedule and stay on it for a few years. Instead of arcs, give me “era’s”! I don’t want sufficient art, I want to be wowed!
Also, 2 major plot points to this story (the Cosmic Cube fragment and Emma’s control over Xorn) were never explained in the pages of this book, but in another, with no footnotes by the editor. Although I guessed she was manipulating Xorn, I had no idea about the fragment. I think a return to footnotes should be standard across all Marvel titles. Ok, now that that’s out of the way…
This was the issue I’ve been waiting for! Right from the start, I decided that if the series was merely a retread of the original five I would not have any qualms about dropping the book. With changes in their powers already starting to set them apart from the story we all know, Cullen Bunn has laid down a path I want to follow. Bringing Lorna Dane into the mix was a great idea, As I’ve said before, the character has a rich backstory that is ripe for exploration, that only Peter David has given any justice too. I have high hopes for her appearance in this book and her role in the future. Everyone in the main cast gets a moment to shine, which is nice. In this regard, I understand the need to sacrifice any character development of old favorites we see, like Firestar and Wolfsbane. How did they end up working with Emma? Is she controlling them? Are those really secondary mutations or something more….Sinister? Are nano-Sentinels involved? Many questions laid out. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait too long to find out more about these fan favorites!
There’s a schism of sorts among fans regarding Emma Frost. Many despise her current incarnation; stating she earned her “good guy status” and that she’s being written out of character. Some feel she is acting IN-character, and that this has been her true self all along; scheming and manipulative, and they are happy she is “showing her true colors”. It’s entirely possible for someone as cool and confident as Emma to have a breakdown. Having gone through what she has, I think it makes for interesting reading to see some flaws in a character groomed to have a popular about-face. It also shows just how powerful Jean has become, and enhanced further by the Cosmic Cube fragment. Not only did she defeat Emma, but the fragment imbued some of its power onto Jean “permanently”.
All the players have been put in place. Let’s see where this takes us!
Final thought: A satisfying end to this story arc, with high hopes for the future, X-Men Blue #9 is a must-have for old and new fans alike.